Dangerous ‘construction fail’ which caused a metal sign to fall and almost crush a driver to death is revealed – as authorities warn other signs might be impacted
- Tullamarine Freeway sign that crushed a woman’s car had a vital part missing
- Audit found the sign was missing a steel plate left out during construction
- Engineers believe it’s why the sign fell on Nella Lettieri’s car on January 8
- Two other signs later taken down as a precaution also had the vital part missing
The freeway sign that almost killed a woman when it crashed on to her car had a missing component that caused it to fall, a preliminary audit has found.
Authorities have discovered the overhead sign that crushed Nella Lettieri’s car on Melbourne’s Tullamarine Freeway on January 8 had a steel plate missing that wasn’t installed during construction.
Transurban’s preliminary audit report into the near tragedy found that two other signs were later taken down as a precaution also had the vital part missing, The Herald Sun reported.
An preliminary audit has discovered that the Tullamarine Freeway overhead sign that fell on Nella Lettieri’s car (pictured) earlier this month had a vital component missing
The sign that fell was from an inbound exit that was recently upgraded as part of the CityLink Tulla Widening project.
The preliminary audit focused on 17 gantries installed during the widening project, which was also extended to other gantries of a similar size and structure on Melbourne’s freeways.
Guidelines for overhead gantries constructed during the project state signs must be installed with a steel plate inside.
But none of the gantries were built with this vital part inside, which wouldn’t have been detected during drive-by inspections by VicRoads.
Engineers now believe the Tullamarine sign fell because of the missing steel plate, The Herald Sun reported.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Transurban for comment.
An independent review into the incident will determine whether other factors contributed to the collapse.
Victoria road authorities removed several signs on the CityLink and West Gate Freeway because of their similarity to the one that crashed on Ms Lettieri, 55, a fortnight ago.
Nella Lettieri narrowly escaped serious injury when an overhead sign crushed her car
‘These signs have passed engineering assessments and show no signs of deterioration or stress,’ VicRoads said in a statement.
‘Safety of road users is our top priority and we are committed to a robust and rigorous investigation process.’
Ms Lettieri narrowly escaped serious injury when the four-metre by five-metre sign fell onto her car on the Tullamarine Freeway near Essendon Airport.
Dashcam footage from a vehicle behind shows the force of the giant sign, moving Ms Lettieri’s car even though she had slammed on her brakes.
The weight of the sign crushed her car, shattering the windscreen and scattering glass across the highway.
Crash survivor Nella Lettieri (pictured), 55, was taken to hospital after an enormous road sign smashed her car
‘It was like a roller door had come down right in front of me,’ Ms Lettieri told 9News.
‘I could feel it coming down and something’s hit my head and I’ve gone to put my hand up to stop it but it was so heavy.’
A visual inspection of all signs and gantries are carried out every six months, while a ‘detailed condition assessment’ takes place every 2-4 years.
VicRoads admitted a similar sign had all of a sudden plummeted to the ground in 2007.